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UPDATED: Anmore village hall to be replaced
The homestead of newspaper woman Ma Murray won't be housing Anmore village business after a decision was made Tuesday to replace the aging building with a new structure.
However, the future of the historic farmhouse has yet to be written.
A public meeting will be held this spring to discuss what should be done with the building made famous by the Murrays and next week, on March 5, council will be reviewing the process to plan for a new building.
It was a unanimous decision to replace the building and a heart-wrenching one, said Mayor Heather Anderson, because of the history associated with the Village Hall and the fact that city business has been done there for almost 25 years.
But Anderson said council couldn't square the idea of spending $800,000 to $900,000 to fix it and bring it up to BC Building Code, given the need to have more space to accommodate future growth.
"If the repairs weren't so extensive and if there was an opportunity to make the building larger, that would give us more usable space, we definitely would have considered it," Anderson said.
However, a new structure could cost between $1.4 million to $2 million, Anderson expects, although more information is needed, and the village needs to start saving.
"It was something we hadn't planned on doing this year," she said
In December, staff moved out of the building, said to be rat-infested and moldy, into a trailer, and Anderson said the 10 employees will likely be there for a few years as it will take some time to plan, save and construct a replacement. Anmore council has also moved to a portable behind Anmore elementary school in the interim.
In reaching its conclusion to decommission the building, Anderson said, councillors reviewed several reports including a cursory review by ED Witzke who said it was too far gone to save, and was, in fact, "bulldozer ready." Another more detailed report by Lloyd Lucas, suggested it could cost $663,750 to replace the roof and make interior and exterior repairs. Further reports suggested the renovation could cost even more — up to $900,000, Anderson said.
BUILDING LINKED TO B.C. HISTORY
Still, there will be some who will be sad to see the building go, if that is the decision.
George and Margaret "Ma" Murray began their lives together in Anmore and raised their two children Georgina and Dan in the homestead, according to a letter from the Murray's grand daughter, Margie Graham.
George Murray went on to become an MLA in the province and later an MP, while Margaret was known for her outspoken ways. The couple started weekly papers in Lillooet, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.
The Murray's granddaughter, Margie Graham, who lives in Alberta, would like to see the building retained as a provincial or national historic site, and has informed Anmore village council that she has papers and memorabilia that could be housed in the building.
Ma Murray is also a respected figure in the B.C. journalism community. The BC Yukon Community Newspaper Association has named its annual awards and a Community Service Award after her.